BENGALURU: Three leopards died across the state on Saturday, taking the number of deaths to 13 since January this year. In one incident, a young leopard was hunted and chopped to pieces in Byadagi taluk of Haveri district. The dead animal was found in Kaatenahalli village in Motebennur section of Byadagi Range in Haveri forest division.
According to police and forest officials, a gang of hunters may have killed the leopard. The poachers had cut off the animal’s head, tail, four legs and paws. Local villagers claimed that four strangers who came on motorcycles were seen wandering near Kaatenahalli where the carcass was discovered.
Wildlife activist G Veeresh said, “Nowadays, hunters and wildlife trade smugglers have been eliciting the help of villagers to hunt big carnivores. They have been encouraging and enticing local people to actively hunt and help in global trading of skin, nails, head, antlers and other body parts which have a big market in China.”
In another incident, a leopard was beaten to death at Harpanahalli in Davangere district when it strayed into a green house on a farm in search of food. Cases have been booked against those who killed the animal. This is the second time in Davangere that a leopard has been beaten to death by farmers.
Another leopard was found dead at Bandaguppe Madeshwara temple near Javanagudda Anekallu in Chamarajanagara forest division.
BRT Tiger Reserve Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Dr Shankar said that cattle grazers found the carcass of the animal on Saturday. He added: “No foul play is suspected. It has died naturally in its forest habitat and was found with 50 per cent of its body highly decomposed. It may have died a week ago. We are awaiting the postmortem report.”
Chief Wildlife Warden C Jayaram told Express: “Three teams have been formed to investigate the Haveri case. As per initial investigations, it looks as if the animal was killed elsewhere, maybe 15 km away towards Shikaripura, and the carcass dumped in Byadagi. Cases have been booked.”
On the rising number of leopard deaths, he said that this year, many leopards had been rescued in Mandya, Mysuru and Kolar. “In fact, 12 were rescued in Mandya alone. Habitats of leopards are disappearing and it is one of the reasons for the deaths. Small stone quarries and hillocks are natural shelters and good habitat for leopards but they have been occupied by human beings. With increasing human population and urbanisation, unfortunately leopards today have become victims,” he said.
(With inputs from Gangadhar Hugar, Haveri)